Connie Sue Highway - 80 km north of Neale Junction

Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 00:00

Mick O

Monday 13th July, 2009
Connie Sue Highway, WA 80 km north of Neale Junction
27 46 34.9 126 07 40.0

T'was a brisk morning this morning. He warm weather is becoming an all too distant memory. We weren’t in any rush so had a leisurly breakfast of crumpets and tea in the campers kitchen and then got down to the serious business of repacking the vehicle. Yesterdays reorganisation and rationilsation had created quite a few gaps that I was determined to utilise to best advantage. Anything that will reduce the size of the roof bag will be a distinct bonus.

Saying our farewells to Pete and Di, we were on the road south again at 9:00 a.m. The turnoff to the Connie Sue is only 4 km south west of the roadhouse and is marked by a small sign atop a drum. The track is in good condition as you head south except for the odd car wreck left lying in the middle of the track in hard to see corners. Looked like it had been a good head on. It stays that way for 38 km down to the Y intersection where the two access roads meet. Here we turned left and experienced a few corrugations and sand as we enetered the spinifex covered sand hills (not dunes, hills!). Something lurking in the sand to the right hand side of the track leapt out and bit both drivers side tyres not to far along. The front survived with a mark, the rear was torn asunder and the rim dented in two locations. Scouting back, I couldn’t see anything so presume it was a big rock hidden by spinifex. It made a mess of the 'ST' and the rim so off it came and my last tubeless spare, the BFG I picked up in Hedland went on. I may have to use a thong to repair this one should the need arise as it’s a bloody big gash in the side wall starting almost at the bead.

Our hopes of a nice days driving were bleep tered once we reached the ranges around the McKenzie Breakaway. Here the track climbed to run along the top of the range, the long red cliffs and bluffs close by our right shoulder. The track turned to bleep real quick, heavily corrugated and a pain to drive. Having already sustained damage from running the tyres at low pressures on the Canning, I was reluctant to do so here so I just slowed down to 20 kph and lower. Annoyingly slow but effective in combatting the dreaded suspension and soul destroying bumps. We stopped on several occassions to alight and stand on the edge of the bluffs we were paralleling gaining good views off into the distant west.

So it was, slow and grinding going until we ascended down onto the sand again. The country was slowly but all to evidently changing in naure as we continued south south west. The stony rises were wattle and spinifex covered and the flats more acacia and mulga finally giving way to more and more euqacalypts. At times I would swear I was driving through the mallee or wheat belt country of southern W.A. Some of the gums were spectacular, such as the one we are camped under tonight. Lunch was had in a little clearing beside the road near the long buried remains of a campfire.

At Hanns Tabletop Hill, we took a little detour to the mount and scaled its lofty heights, I reckon at least 30 metres if not more (lol). The red sandstone cliffs support a warren of caves and caverns, many sheltered by impressive stands of native fig trees. From the top you gan an impressive view across the country to nearby Point Wood and Ryans Bluff to the south east, and west into the vastness of the outback itself. We explored the eastern and southern sides of the hill, finding huge crevasses that allowed light to penetrate into the myriad caverns beneath the tabletop, no doubt a haven for all sorts of native life. It was a fascinating and enjoyable break from the days travel. Thankfully the road conditions had improved no end allowing more comfortable travelling conditions and speeds. The washaways and ribbons of exposed rock remained things to be alert for though.

We had another surprise at Cooper Creek and Bore. A brand new solar pump and small tank sits atop the bore filled with clear sweet water. This recent innovation is a welcome one, not that we needed water, and is no doubt a boon to travellers on the route. The bore was capped with a submersible pump lowered into the bore casing. A 130 watt solar panel sat above the small tank providing power and no doubt a float valve type arangement operated the pumps when needed. Good thinking and hats off to those who made it happen. On leaving we spied several puddles and claypans with small amounts of water therein, evidence that they have had recent heavier falls than we experienced further north.

Continuing on past Sandercock, Lillian and Trim Points, we found a nice spot to set up camp under a stand of gums. There is plenty of dead timber lying about. The stiff sou-westerly has been cool all day. The breeze has dropped right away as the sun dips below the horizon, a little earlier than we have been used to. Earlier starts perhaps. Al’s got a beaut fire going with the excellent quality timber so it’s time to get in close to it. A chilly one tonight I think! Later, with the sky ablaze with stars, we left the warmth of the fire and headed out into the spinifex country where Al got i ntroduced to a desert night sky. It was amazing. The binoculars made it even more so.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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